Wrestling With Books

Wrestling With Books January 13, 2018


As far as I’m concerned, this is the blog post of the year. I know it’s only the second week of January, but I’m going to go ahead and declare the winner. First of all because it’s the best story in the world, and we desperately need brilliantly hopeful and cheerful stories, but second of all because Bekah is So Right to juxtapose the wrestling of Jacob with God with the Struggle of Books.

I would say that at least 51% of the time it takes me to be a parent is taking up with fretting over books, both for myself, but more especially for the children.

As I say all the time, I can’t read because of all the children. I’m too tired at night–when I lay my head back onto my squishy pillow I instantly fall asleep, only to wake up at 2am to curse the darkness for what usually feels like eternity–and during the day I am constantly and without mercy from anybody, interrupted. My ever growing stack of books I want to read mocks me and condemns me. I walk by it and feel the weight of lost thought and lost time.

But then there’s the whole business of reading to children, and with children, and hoping that children themselves will one day read. This is its own intense struggle. None of my children wanted to read. If I’d waited for their natural inclinations I would never have any child read ever. But slowly, through a mixture of failed discernment and sheer terror, I have six children who know how to read. That seems like the worst part, but really, it’s just the beginning.

Once they can read, what should they read? It’s such a desperate and precarious question. I am always searching my shelves, trying to tempt each child out of his and her obtuse peculiarity towards one book or another. Try this, I say, or this. Invariably they come back with their feelings hurt because I proffered the wrong thing. On stunningly rare occasions there appears a light in the eye for the right book at the right moment.

And, possibly even more tragic, are the many many books that have been ruined by me for insisting on them too soon. I want to read all the books, Now, and my impatience drives me forward. I pick up a favorite volume, I launch in, I look up and see that, by not waiting, I have forever prejudiced the entire crew against one of my favorite books ever. I then spend seven years backtracking, talking up the book, trying to reseed the ground, the whole time it took Jacob to work for, as it turned out, Leah.

No one tells you this is going to be your lot when you blithely waltz home from the maternity, dewy with love for your precious new infant. You think it’s going to be peaches and roses, sippy cups and Cheerios. No one Says Anything about the books. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go tear the screens from the spellbound clutches of my miserable offspring. Have a lovely day.

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